Adams Papers

From John Adams to William Stephens Smith, 23 July 1813

Quincy July 23rd 1813

Dear Smith

Your favour of 15th is alarming. Remember the fate of Cassandra. The prophet of ill ’tho’ as true as a goose’s bow is always detested. I also have been now and then reckoned among the minor prophets. Not a bone of any Goose ever picked by Jo Green, Nick Boylston, & Master Lovel on a Christmas eve, tho’ they had Nat Gardner for a guest, and exhausted all their wit, Gibes, & Jokes upon it, ever foretold an approaching winter, with more certainty that I have foreseen two or three small events in the course of my Life, such as the American Independence, & the result of the french revolution for example. But I was always execrated for it; & persecuted worse than the hebrew prophets, when they were set in the stocks.

I do therefore instruct you as one of my Representatives to Have a care. To take heed. To give attention.

Our Country is indeed in a deplorable condition! If a burnt Child did not dread the fire I should be tempted to prognosticate, that you will be compelled to mount your horse at midnight, & trot, canter or Gallop, to Fredericktown, Yorktown, Lancaster & philadelphia, as I did in 1777, from Philadelphia, to Trenton, Lancaster & Yorktown. But Sobrius esto.

I live in the joyful trembling hope of receiving my Dear Nabby, the lovely Caroline, the worthy Nancy, & the manly John, in the course of the next week; & Col Smith my Representative, tho I do not approve all his votes early in August.

Your “discreet ones” are not so correct Prophets as you & I. N.Y. cannot be managed without De Witt. You know the three rocks, on which he stands. His Uncle stood 30, years & more the winds blew, the rain descended, & the floods came, but he fell not, for he was founded on three rocks.

When you come here, we will settle the nation; but after all, we can reason, conjecture, conjure we shall find ourselves prophets in fault, as much as ever you found two hounds in fault, in a hunting chase.

If you are possessed of second sight enough, to understand the letter, it is more than is pretended by your father in Law & Constituent, for qui facit per alterum facit per se

John Adams

PS. Q. Are the terrors, Confusions, Alarms, Consternations, Horrors, greater now than they were under the immortal Hancock, & the immortal Washington? Ask General Pickering & Vice President Gerry surely if they can sleep together in the same bed, it is no incivility to ask the same question of both. JA.

MHi: Adams Family Papers, Letterbooks.

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